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30/01/2012: Mozambique


Matola,Strength of the young and wisdom of the elders make us effective Marist Apostles. It was the John ( the young) / Peter (the elder) experience on the scene of the empty tomb, John 20: 3-8 that called my attention. Here you see Bro. Joe, our Provincial, keenly looking at Br. Dominic signing in the book of register after his first profession at the altar of St. Gabriel parish, Matola, Mocambique. Anyone who comes to the Southern Africa Province will be amazed to see that the majority of the Brothers are young. This makes the presence of the elders a necessity.

In the early days of our Congregation, Champagnat had to leave the comfort of La Valla parish residence to be with the young pioneer  Brothers in the small house we call the cradle of the Institute. Of course, in the Incarnation mystery too we see Jesus being with us. In fact St. Matthew and Isaiah say the virgin will bear a child who will be called a Emmanuel which means God with us. “ I will be with you” is the phrase of God.

The Salesians  of Don Bosco speak of preventative presence. The young people lack wisdom which is complemented by the elders. In Chichewa we say old age is the gold mine of wisdom. I know that the youth now do not take their wisdom and we see mistakes everywhere as a consequence. Look at the drug and alcohol abuses among the young nowadays. Look at the crime rate among the young adults. They pay at a price.

The scene of John and Peter tells us that the young have to wait and seek the wisdom of the elders. Any time the young decides to ignore the wisdom of the elders, you will be shocked with the terrible mistakes that will follow.

Many of you have read the Lord of the flies novel and you know how the young ones mistreated their fellow young man.

As Marists we have a pedagogy of presence in our educational approach. The constitution says, “ Good example and constant presence are other important elements of Marist pedagogy, which Father Champagnat summarized : “To educate children well, one must love them and love them all equally.”  Aricle.81

I pray that we young Brothers will see our elder Brothers not as fault finders but as elders full of wisdom accumulated from experience to help us become effective Apostles. It is only in this that we can realize “How they love one another!” as the pagans observed among the early Christians.

Any young person who sees elders as blocking his freedom is bound to make trouble mistakes which will make his apostolate fruitless. So we can say that the strength of the young and the wisdom of the elders complement each other.

Simeon Banda fms,  Matola.

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